Wednesday, March 26, 2014

903 Brewers: On Sasquatch and his new sanctuary

Image credit: 903 Brewers
Sherman's 903 Brewers won't mark their first year in business until June, but as we've seen with other breweries trying to supply a thirsty North Texas market, it's never too early to be thinking about expansion.

Along those lines, owners Jeremy and Natalie Roberts have embarked on a project that will impact all aspects of the brewery. On the production side, drain lines are being cut in preparation for the installation of a seven-barrel brewhouse designed by Stout Tanks and Kettles. The turnkey system, which Jeremy notes will bring welcome bit of automation to the brewery, will feed three fifteen-barrel dairy tanks obtained from Cedar Creek in Seven Points. While the equipment will up capacity, he says the motivation behind the investment is a desire to improve on the quality and consistency of 903's beers. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to deliver "quality beers that people enjoy."

Work is also planned for the taproom and outdoor space to enhance the experience for visitors to the brewery. Inside, a second bar with additional taps will be built in the area which houses the cold room, while on the outside an expansive beer garden is in the works. Adjacent to the building's east side, Roberts says they'll utilize all of the fenced-in space for cornhole setups and a stage for live music. Along the south elevation, picnic tables will fill an area extending roughly twelve feet out from the brewery's exterior wall.

Changes may also be coming to how the business operates, as Roberts mentioned they are considering a switch to a brewpub license. Short-term this would allow 903 to offer growler fills for off-premise consumption, but the prevailing question of whether to make the move has more to do with how soon they might be able to add bottling capability. Growlers are one thing, but having beer in packaged form for sale at the brewery would provide more overall benefit to the bottom line. A final decision on this is expected within a few weeks.

Regarding the beer, Roberts points out that while equipment upgrades will allow 903 to increase production of their year-round brews, he'll still be brewing small batches on his original system. Most likely, these beers will be brewery exclusives offered only in the taproom. For wide release, though, Roberts shared that they'll have two new beers coming out over the next few months. Due in May is Sugar on Top IPA, a beer infused with brown sugar that was available as a test batch at the brewery last summer. After that they'll produce a Peach Wheat Ale, which will be 903's first anniversary brew.

The other news is that sales of Sasquatch have led to its inclusion in 903's year-round lineup. Stylistically labeled as an Imperial chocolate milk stout, the beer was originally intended as a wintertime-only treat. Its favorable reception, however, means it'll be shedding that seasonal designation. Roberts calls Sasquatch "a beast" to brew, and truth be told it's still evolving. Initial batches had the taste of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup, whereas more recent results are a bit less sweet with more of an earthy cocoa nib character. Some have told me they think its 903's best beer to date, and I'm inclined to agree.

Going forward, Roberts' outlook is the same as it's always been. He wants to brew enjoyable beers that people keep coming back to. The fact that he's always looking for ways to improve will go a long way towards making that happen more and more.

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